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Having been a fan of frontman Ethan McCarthy's project Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire for a while now, my anticipation for this release was sky high especially after the release of "Visceral" in 2011, which saw them incorporating elements of funeral doom into their usual brand of frenzied "funeral grind." Over the 16 and some odd minutes of it's runtime the band seamlessly jumps from a crawl to a full on assault, tied together by their unique riffs and note choices. Scorn is a natural continuation of that sound, yet retaining the same unyielding commitment to anti-consonance.
The first thing that caught my attention about this release is just how massive everything sounds. Bass and guitars are downtuned and loud, and both possess a rich fuzzy distortion that really serves to emphasize the low end and really rounds out their sound. Drums are punchy and full bodied and sit perfectly in the mix. Ethan's vocals have always been one of the major standout factors to his work for me and he's honestly never sounded more at home here, his caustic shrieks cutting fiercely through the dense atonal sludge of the riffs driving home the intensity of the work.
As mentioned before, Scorn is heavy. REALLY FUCKING HEAVY. Much of the album is spent somewhere between a drunken stagger and a punishing crawl which works quite well for them. Tracks begin and end with noise as would befit any grind act. The dissonance of their riffing when given some proper breathing room tends to yield an unsettling effect, which is often bolstered by the inclusion of feedback or fret noise in the more sparse passages. That's not to say the album is all set at that pace, in songs like the title track and Antietam will explode out of nowhere into a brief but furious crusty charge, adding to the urgency of it the music settling back down. The most impressive part of it all and the thing that will likely add to its staying power are the way they can carve impossibly catchy riffs with a clever ear for unconventional melody. The song Rags fades out with a haunting arpeggiated chord progression laid down over a bed of feedback. The 9 minute epic Antietam's middle section's got a nasty grooving hook that gradually reduces in tempo as if it's falling apart before breaking completely down into noise. The sum of all it's parts work well together and keep the album interesting throughout.
This is an excellent first effort for the band and I look forward to whatever the future holds for them.
Essentially boasting the exact same lineup as the rather unique Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire, which completely got me hooked with their last EP Visceral, Primitive Man seems to be the band’s effort to push things to a further extreme, this time with the band adopting a more sludge/doom sound with their debut full length release Scorn.
The disturbing noise of feedback, and that dark, ominous atmosphere that hits the listener right from the start of the album pretty much gives a good introduction to the journey that Primitive Man has put in place for the listener. The music here is crushing as hell, and if one were not crushed by the heavy riffs, downtuned guitars and the rumbling bass itself, the suffocating atmosphere is sure to get one down, making it almost hard to breathe, and the somewhat psychedelic feel that the band engages in right from the start brings to mind bands such as Drug Honkey and their experimental form of doom metal.
The vocal styling of Ethan easily brings in the CTTTOAFF influences in Primitive Man‘s music, and this is most evident in the intensity that is present, though the tortured quality certainly shines through the music of Primitive Man even more with the abundance of slow sections on the album. Yet Primitive Man is more than just that (in fact, vastly different from the style of CTTTOAFF), as the band seems to pull in influences from quite a wide spectrum of genres. Despite being mainly a sludge/doom band, there are many moments where the band easily sounds like one of those oppressive death metal bands such as Impetuous Ritual and Portal, what with the coalescing of heavy riffs and the generous usage of feedback and various effects on the guitar to ensure that the listener is put under as much pressure as possible, especially on moments such as the middle of title track, Scorn.
The progression of Scorn can get extremely slow at times as well, and moments such as these help to build up the tension in the air. This also ensures that the experience of listening to the album is as excruciatingly painful as possible, allowing Primitive Man to slowly hammer and drill their messages of hopelessness and desolation into the listener. The band’s emphasis on the atmospheric aspect is also evident, with tracks like I Cant’t Forget and the disturbing sound samples on the track and throughout the album easily leaving one gasping desperately for air by the time the album ends.
With Scorn as the band’s debut release, Primitive Man has certainly set an extremely high benchmark for itself. It certainly leaves one to wonder how they will top this, and makes any fan of the band and their related projects eagerly anticipating for more from this trio.